“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” might be what you want to say, but handling a difficult client is never that easy. Jay Chapman, a senior ZING salon coach, is here to help us turn breaking up with a client into an art.

After 14 years as a salon owner, Jay Chapman took his experience into salon coaching with The ZING Project. In his words “To not teach others what I learnt that hard way is just plain mean!” Jay went from losing money daily to having a team of 10 and being able to completely remove himself from day to day salon operations in order to start a family. He’s passionate about team culture, communication and helping people get out of their own way so they too can have a business AND a life. Since starting coaching, he has worked with more than 100 hair, beauty and clinic businesses all over Australia and New Zealand.

Why would you ever break up with a client?

One of the first things you learn in customer service is that the customer is always right, so breaking up with a client can feel completely counterintuitive. But Jay believes that retaining clients who don’t fit with how you and your staff work can hold your salon back from its full potential. No business will ever be all things to all people.

“It’s important to remember that it’s not the people we choose to work with that will help us grow, it’s the people we choose not to work with!”

Jay Chapman

So where do we draw the line?

Jay believes that your values and boundaries should be the same everywhere, across both your personal and professional life. Everyone’s definition of disrespectful behaviour is different, though, and that’s why it’s important for the salon owner to speak to their team about what is okay and what is not okay when it comes to communication from a client.

But can a break up be done respectfully? Could it cause bad reviews?

Like any relationship that ends, breaking up with a client should be done face-to-face wherever possible (the only time the phone should be used is when you think the client could react badly and aggressively). Jay recommends putting yourself in your client’s shoes, and really thinking about how you – personally – would like to be broken up with.

“I think about the old saying – ‘say what you mean but never be mean when you say it” – it’s incredibly important to watch your tone and delivery, especially if the client is not expecting the news.”

Jay Chapman

Of course, even if you do everything respectfully, there is always a chance they’ll post a bad review of your business. That’s just all part of being in a business that services people! But a bad review online is always an opportunity for you to also have your say – Google’s review settings mean they can’t comment on your public reply, giving you a platform to show your classiness to any prospective clients (and, to have the last say on the matter 😉 ).

Protecting yourself from breakups

Prevention is always better than the cure, and your clients won’t know if they’re overstepping boundaries if they didn’t know there were boundaries in the first place. A lot of conflict comes from no shows and lateness, but if your clients are clear on your cancellation policy and need for promptness they’re far more likely to stay within your rules.

(and, you should make them put some skin in the game by using booking deposits!)

Blocking clients through software isn’t the answer

Here, Jay is crystal clear:

“For me, I think this is just avoiding a challenging conversation that needs to be had. My suggestion is to put your big girl pants on and have the conversation! I know it’s difficult, however the outcomes are oh so sweet!”

Connect with Jay on instagram 

Find out more about Jay’s coaching services at The Zing Project